Things Are Looking Up

17 days in the hospital, 3 ECT, 1 new med, 3 meds stopped, and 1 med in a different form. Its been a busy time in here!  So far my responsiveness is better and brighter, as is my affect. My mood is a little higher than when I got here, and suicidal thoughts are more academic with less intent. Although, death is still appealing to me. It’s all progress, and I’ll take it! Best guess is that I’ll go home on Monday after ECT #5. Friday was a possibility but we’ll have a better sense of whether the treatments are working if there is sustained remission with the extra day over the weekend. And I’d like to be thinking about suicide less before going home since going home will increase anxiety which will increase suicidal thinking (how it works for me at least).

I’ve read 4 books so far and am a third of the way through a 5th. Watching tv a lot, since there are only 2 groups a day plus meals to occupy our time. Played some games, talked to people too. Such is life in a psych unit.

Early ECT

On Friday I had the first ECT in this series. It went smoothly with only the expected horrible all-over aches for two days now. I have the next three this week, Mon,Wed, Fri. When I am adjusted to the treatments AND I am no longer suicidal, I can move on into outpatient ECT treatments. Logistics for that is a bigger issue than it should be. Sigh. Family. Sigh.

I did not take on ECT lightly. I know I could lose more memories and cognitive function. But I can’t live with suicidal thoughts Every.Fucking.Day. I can’t live in the depths of despair Every Day. Medications are not and have not worked to keep me stable. Hospitals have lifted me out. Time with family has held a fall at bay. I have been told that ECT changes lives. I’m trying to have hope that it will change mine.

See, there’s a contradiction. Hope that it will change my life presupposes that I want to live. I don’t want to live suicidally depressed or cycling rapidly into and out of it. AND I have little hope at all that ANything can work. So death is my best option out of this quandary of hades’ making.

Want to know why I am still in the hospital then?

New Hospital…and ECT Again

I have been staring into the abyss for two weeks. I have been very close to suicide, even in the hospital, where I am right now. I didn’t get to take my Chicago vacation because I was in a New And Good hospital. Excellent doctors and staff, comfy bed, decent food.

And still I struggle with life and death. It is deeply agonizing. Good doctors have taken me off three of my meds and added one. Med changes are miserable but usually necessary. One thing to discern is whether my suicidal visions are from depression or OCD, reopening an old argument. I want the death, but the visions come unbidden. So the argument remains.

With only a little persuasion, I have agreed to a full course of ECT – 12-20 sessions, three days a week. Yes, I have had bad experiences such as long-term memory loss and cognitive loss. I’m at the end of meds I can I can try. I’ve been told I’ve taken enough that I have a 5-10 percent chance of Any working at this point. I never did a full series of ECT before so I don’t know if it will work. I’m going risk further memory and cognitive issues because sometimes I want to live.

I need your love and support. I’m very alone at the edge of the abyss.

In a Dark Place Again

I’m of two minds again. One part of my mind wants to go on the trip to Chicago next week. I’ve got plans to do some fun things and to catch up with friends. In theory there are other trips I want to go on, and I still wonder about going back to school for a ph.d. some day (next year? ha! like my brain could do that). I’m also thinking about moving back to Chicago again where I’d be happier, as I discussed in my previous post.

But.

I’m in a dark place again thinking about suicide and imagining how I’d do it. My plan is clear, as it always is. So that’s not new. In fact none of this is new. I have sorted all my blog posts into topics for the book I’m writing about living with bipolar. So very often I have written about suicidal thoughts and how they keep after me, nipping at my heels on a constant basis. I have written of wondering if I should go to the hospital and how badly I am suffering in the pit of suicidal depression.

I’m in the pit again. I work the coping skills All.The.Time. I contact people. Now I even have my therapist in the pit with me, saying he will stay until it’s not a pit anymore or until he or I finds a way out that hasn’t been tried before. And he said he would tell me when it’s time to go the hospital. Both of these tactics are different from other providers who always left it up to me and kept telling me to work the skills as though things would be different this time. They never were. I would end up in the hospital as a cry for help instead of following through.

I hate the hospitals here. Nothing to do. Substandard care. Bad food. I miss my hospital in Chicago-area. Being as bad as I am, I would be more likely to go to the hospital in Chicago. Here in TX, I’m desperate to stay out. So much that I might push myself to do it, although I’d just end up in the hospital if I lived.

So morbid.

I’m ashamed of being this bad again. I know in my heart that it’s not something I’ve done. It’s something I live with. The thoughts pound against my skull. When I’m thinking about the trip, I know the suicidal thoughts are lies. But the next minute I’m sinking into despair.

Revisiting Moving

So I’m going to Chicago-land next week for a vacation. I’ll see a lot of friends and I thought I’d see some sites I never saw when I lived there and revisit some too. I also researched a bunch of apartments I could afford in areas close to friends. Which brings up the idea of moving back to an area where I have friends and like the place and weather better.

My therapist reminded me that when I have repeated thoughts – or any thoughts really – I can decide whether to think about them and give them attention, or not.  I’m still wondering if I should move, especially back to Chicago. Hence, I have been looking at apartments in my old area. And maybe I should find a roommate so I wouldn’t be living alone.

Pros of Moving: culture and weather I enjoy, better situation for my cat, lots of friends in my life, good care team including excellent hospital, value of independence lived out, not living with family

Pros of Staying: live with supportive mother, partner in healthy behaviors,  money available for travel, good psychiatrist and therapist

Cons of Moving: extra cost and stress on mental health of moving, extra cost per month (less of an issue if have a roommate), take care of health alone, daily responsibilities harder cuz alone (unless have roommate, then this is not an issue)

Cons of Staying: living with family, not best place for cat, hate culture and weather, little independence, bad hospitals if needed, few friends

Either way I am taking care of my health and have a good care team, except for a hospital if I stay in Texas. With a roommate in Chicago I would still have some money for travel. With moving I would be living out my value of independence, though I would be starting fresh again which is hard on my mental health (changes are hard!).

What do you think is best with these pros and cons??

In other news, my doctor is confident the Abilify injection I started this month will have a HUGE impact on my mood swings – fewer and less intense. That has been his experience with many, many patients. He said that if I didn’t experience success with this treatment, I’d be the first. Yay! There is some hope?

Inherent Dignity And Worth

In church today we recited some principles of our faith. The first one is the inherent dignity and worth of every human being, indeed every thing in the universe. The reflection included some stuff about the inherent dignity and worth of every person, as well as the need for finding meaning and purpose for life.

Some observations.

  1. It’s an assumption of mine that a lot of (most?) people in the world do not have the luxury of self-reflection or finding meaning and purpose – in their jobs, for instance. It’s a 1st world or 4th quadrant problem. Must have the basics of life going well (i.e., a job that provides for a family) before self-actualization becomes an issue, says the person in weekly therapy. I have the luxury.
  2. I do not feel I have inherent dignity and worth. I feel like a collection of cells that have gone wrong. I have so many medical problems, and bipolar is just the worst one right now. I know you will disagree with me.
  3. Evolutionary science is absolutely amazing, and each thing in the universe is awe-inspiring for how it has evolved to function in so many diverse ways. In living things, in me surprisingly, there is a survival instinct to keep breathing, keep eating, keep sleeping, keep living. It’s what has kept me alive when so close to suicide. I follow this instinct to this day when I can’t see a point in going on.
  4. So I’m in awe of how my personal cells have evolved with billions of microbes to create a living thing. But my genes mutated into a living thing that is not fit for the environment, and I first made the decision and then it was made for me, not to reproduce so that I didn’t pass along any of my (mostly heritable) mutations who would also not be fit for the environment.
  5. I know I’m not giving my body enough credit for adapting as much as it has. Nevertheless, I don’t feel I have inherent worth or dignity. Just a collection of cells not functioning even with modern science working hard.

Sigh.

Bow-Tie Ending

What do you want a bow-tie ending to look like for you? said my therapist. We were talking about the memoir I restarted this week. I struggle with what the take-away should be. Surely it’s not a neatly wrapped bow-tie ending. My moods still cycle. I’m not stable. I still end up in the hospital. Bipolar still defines my activities. So in the book, what’s the message I have?

I decided the take-away is living with bipolar. My story is not nice and pretty. I thought I had an original story from the other bipolar memoirs that are out there because mine is not a neat and tidy ending. I originally thought Acceptance of Bipolar in My Life might be the ending, but I revisit acceptance regularly, as I am again this summer. Acceptance is not the end game.

In real life I don’t think I’d settle for Acceptance of Bipolar in My Life either. That was my gut instinct when my therapist asked. I immediately dismissed the thought however. I want a cure. Or remission. Or years of a stable mood. I want meaningful, compassionate work (paid or volunteer) that gives me a reason to get up in the morning. I want to make a difference in the world. I want to love animals and nature. I want to have friends to enjoy life with. I want to travel.

Accepting bipolar won’t make these possible. A cure, remission or years of a stable mood just might make all of these more possible. So, should I answer the question at the beginning of this post with “a stable mood”? Or is there something more within my power out there? My therapist wants there to be some goal we could work toward. I’m not sure a stable mood is something that is within my power.